Know How / Soils

Expert advice on how to assess soil health and improve it to raise crop yields. Find out when to test your soil and how to interpret the test results. Improve the structure of your soil by encouraging earthworms, adding organic matter, improving drainage and growing cover crops.

Must reads

Practical advice

See all


How deep cultivations can repair heavy land after a wet winter

Heavy land arable farmers could benefit from subsoiling or mole ploughing after harvest in order to get soils back into shape, ready for autumn cropping, after a wet and damaging…


4 reasons why blackgrass strategies are failing to deliver

Reducing the weed seed bank is a key objective when tackling blackgrass, and early results from a project looking at seed numbers suggest four reasons why farmers aren’t seeing the…


How to use active fallows to repair soils on undrilled land

Growers with land left undrilled this year should consider the use of active fallow to improve soil condition and prepare the ground for next autumn’s drillings. In an active fallow,…


How to sort out grassland compaction

The UK saw another very wet season this winter resulting in waterlogged fields and the risk of the long-term damage to soils. The rain has had a massive impact on…


How to manage fallow land hit by wet winter weather

Many growers will be forced to leave land fallow this season and, although that means no income, there are big benefits from higher crop yields in the future and herbicide…


Why growers should sign up for greening ahead of new scheme

Arable farmers are being urged to sign up for environmental subsidy schemes, such as growing cover crops and wildflower mixes, to prepare for a post-Brexit farm support package. These schemes…

Case studies

See all


How two arable farms are tackling extreme weather

Improving soil health and establishing a cover crop is helping farmers overcome the effects of extreme weather on their cropping system. The past few months have seen big swings in…


How maize is helping grower cut costs and build soil health

Building an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant and doubling the maize area is enabling one Kent grower to tackle blackgrass in problem fields, improve soil health and cut fertiliser costs.  …


Greening farms prepare for radical switch in farm policy

Rutland farm manager Matt Houldcroft is set to put his least productive land into environmental schemes to prepare for a future “public money for public good” farm policy. He is…


How a YEN winner grew top-yielding wheat and OSR crops

Award-winning winter wheat and oilseed rape yields are being produced by Lincolnshire grower Mark Stubbs from a farm that just six years ago was seeing yields being strangled by a bad blackgrass…


Mixed farm invests in direct drill for shift to no-till

Hefty spending on a new cereal drill and a robotic milking system demonstrates how one big Shropshire estate is looking to leave farming a in better shape for the next…


How catch crops cut one grower's costs and improved soils

After 10 years of successful cover cropping, Kent grower Guy Eckley has added catch crops to his rotation with the aim of accelerating the benefits to his soil health. These…


See all


Fermenting organic matter better for soil than composting

Fermenting organic matter in a similar way to ensiling grass, rather than composting waste, can lead to greater improvements in soil health while at the same time helping farmers to…


6 key findings from the AHDB's latest cover crop research

Cover crops are firmly entrenched as a core component of regenerative agriculture, but many growers are finding it difficult to know how to fit them into their rotation or, even…


Tips on getting soils and rotations back on track

After one of the wettest winters on record, it could be assumed that UK arable soils will be in desperate need of first aid before the next cropping season begins.…


How farmer groups can work together to get most from ELM

Farm adviser, Alison Cross, believes that farmers should act together in groups to get the best out of Britain’s future farming policy and so have a wide impact on the…


Is regenerative agriculture the future of arable farming?

A growing number of farmers are overhauling their systems and are now farming in a way that has little impact on soil health, includes greater diversity and leads to more…


Grain testing project aims to improve crop nutrition

Farmers and agronomists could soon benefit from a new Adas initiative aimed at improving crop nutrition, by testing grain and benchmarking results. Work carried out as part of the Yield…

Latest soils news

See all


Poll: How would you rate your soil health?

More than one-third or arable growers could be affected by degraded soils, according to a new survey. Scientists at Rothamsted Research have developed a “soil health” measure that shows 38%…


Scientists discover how manure improves soils

Scientists have solved the mystery of why adding organic material like manure to soils improves flood and drought resilience, climate control and crop yields. Founded on more than 50 years’…


Soil erosion poses risk to food security, study warns

Soil erosion on UK farms will contribute to a decline in crop yields if left unchecked, according to new research. Scientists at the University of Exeter studied more than 1,500…


Adas trials show lowest-ever soil nitrogen levels

Following months of wet weather and widespread flooding on farms, Adas is advising growers to focus on sampling for soil nitrogen supply (SNS). Pete Berry, Adas head of crop physiology,…


See all


Video: High-pressure water tech aids direct drilling success

Replacing drill coulters with a high-pressure jet to open up the soil will not only improve germination, its inventors believe it can aid rooting by cracking compaction and aerating soils.…


Drainage contractor splashes £400k on state-of-the-art plough

Mastenbroek has built its first UK-bound trenchless drainage plough in more than thirty years for Warwickshire-based Farm Services, which is keen to satisfy a resurgent number of farmers requesting field-scale…


Video: Sugar beet drilling starts as growers play catch-up

Sugar beet drilling is racing ahead between the rain showers on light land with one Suffolk Brecklands estate looking to catch up from its latest start in more than a…


Video: The plan that battered blackgrass in 12 months

Three Cambridgeshire growers are fighting back against a heavy yield penalty imposed by blackgrass with a new establishment system and have seen a dramatic turnaround in just 12 months. Declining…